A Neapolitan Life; Naples, Pompei, Capri & the Amalfi Coast; Mediterranean Cruise Part 5

A Neapolitan Life; Naples, Pompei, Capri & the Amalfi Coast; Mediterranean Cruise Part 5

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Destination:  Napels, Pompei,Capri and the Amalfi Coast
Date: December 2012 July 2009

Trent and our six kids outside of one of the busiest pizzerias in Naples
Naples, December 2012

Our first visit to this area was in July 2009.  We had come with a large group of friends and brought along my mother, sister, and our three oldest children.  Looking back on it now I can not believe how much we got checked off our list of things to see in just one day!  We started off the day going straight from Naples over to Pompei.  We had heard there wasn’t too much to see in Naples so we abandoned the home of Sophia Loren for a more historical sight.  

Colton’s face in this 2009 pic touring Pompei says it all
Pompei, July 2009
One of the corpses left from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, in 79AD and preserved for the past 2000 years
Pompeii, July 2009
Bailey and Clay at the ruins in Pompei
Pompei, July 2012

Arriving in Pompei we were met by our tour guide and proceeded to walk around this ancient city.  Pompei had been recently excavated, in 1748, after being covered in ash since Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 A.D.  It cost us about 11E to enter the grounds plus the cost of our guide.  This ancient Roman city was a port hub back in its heyday and represented the middle class of Roman life.  Since it was covered in ash for so long many of the artifacts are perfectly preserved and gave us a sense of what life was like over 2,000 years ago.  From the amphitheater, road-side shops, and fast food type places to churches and harlot houses, Pompei had it all.  

Colton’s lack of enthusiasm cracks me up as he sits outside of one of the
Pompeii homes that still has mosaics on the walls
Pompeii July 2009

This was a wealth of knowledge for anyone who likes history but in the end through the eyes of Colton who was 13 at the time, Bailey 10, and Clay 7 it was just a bunch of rocks and dirt.  They didn’t really understand the magnitude of it all until they saw the plaster casts of victims of Mt. Vesuvius’ fury.  There are glass cases that hold casts of some of these victims there in Pompei today.  Since they were suffocated so quickly and buried in ash it has captured the last moments of their despair.  It is very sad but an interesting sight bringing this whole destroyed city full-circle, when the children realized people had lived here.  

Our travel group back in 2009. We were a little bored by our tour guide
Pompeii July 2009
Clay took my picture as we walked the original streets of Pompeii
Pompeii, July 2009

Our guide in Pompei isn’t worth mentioning because he was rude and a little put off by the children.  He also kept taking a minute to have a smoke which irritated me greatly.  After our visit here we ran quickly over to our tour vans and headed over to see the Amalfi Coast.  At the time I didn’t realize what a gem of coastline I was to behold.  It is a beautiful area where the rich and famous congregate and I wish I had had a few days just to spend at the beaches here.

My mom and I posing with the Amalfi coast in the background
Amalfi Coast, July 2009
Wearing capris in Capri  What a coincidence!
Capri, July 2009
Bailey and Colton have been besties for a long time
On the Amalfi Coast, July 2009

Our last stop of the day was a ferry boat ride over to the island of Capri.  Capri was made famous by being the Roman Emperor’s, Augustus and Tiberius, vacation homes.  It was just fun to go and see the architecture of this hillside community.  There is a train ride that takes you up the side of the hill called the Monte Solaro.  It is at a 45o angle train ride.  When at the top I remember spending most of my time shopping and having some delicious dinner overlooking the Mediterranean.  Some of my friends went to visit the Blue Grotto which is a dinghy ride into the caves that are in the cliffside of Capri.  With a very little entrance into the cave the water there is said to be magnificently blue and a place where ancient Romans would come to hang out.  Since the water was a little choppy during our visit I decided not to attempt to see the Blue Grotto for myself.  

Walking the streets of Naples
December 2012

This time around we decided to do Naples and see what we had missed the first time.  Naples turned out to be a very beautiful quaint city.  I really enjoyed it.  We started our day without any real plans.  Luckily the port is right in the city so we knew we would be okay winging it without a guide.  When we got off of the boat there were many taxis wanting us to hire them for the day to take us around the city, or over to Sorrento, Capri, or even the Amalfi Coast.  Since we wanted to see Naples and knew we could probably do it on our own, we turned them all down.  The amazing thing was they were all still very nice to us.  I usually expect the taxi drivers to become a little irritated and mean after we say no and have even had some call us names but it wasn’t like this in Naples.  They were all friendly and nice and wished us luck on our walking journey.  What a nice change of pace!

Not the prettiest port… Naples
December 2012

From there we decided to start walking and see where the day took us.  Right by the port is the Royal Palace and so we thought we’d start there.  On our five minute walk toward the palace Trent saw a man holding a sign for a tour of the Naples Underground.  If you were to be looking for a sign for this it would actually read Napoli Sottteranea.  This was the one thing that Trent really wanted to see so we grabbed the kids and started following the man with the sign.  He soon took us to a little shop and down over a hundred stairs to this man made underground maze of passageways that used to be the cisterns and waterways of ancient Naples.  

Going down, down, down underground to the Italian hideouts during WWII
Naples, December 2012
Some old artifacts left from the days people lived down under the streets of Naples
December 2012
Yes some of the tunnels were this small.  The walkways were about 22″ wide and some less than 5′ 1/2″ tall
Naples Underground, December 2012
Some of the tunnels had grooves in the walls that led straight up to homes and businesses
Naples Underground, December 2012

Then during World War II it was made into secret passageways and hideouts for Italians through the bombings over the city.  It was fascinating to see how the people lived trying to survive the war.  There is a lot of engraved graffiti on the walls that tells an interesting story as the people hid with their loved ones to save themselves during this desperate time.  The kids were fascinated and loved going down, down, down to see all of the tunnels.  Some of the passageways are only about twenty inches wide and five-and-a-half feet tall and so it was very crammed in some spaces.  Of course this was the most exciting part of the day for the kids.  They loved the Indiana Jones type tour that lasted us about one and a half hours.  

A pic I took from the bottom of the tunnels going up to the top.  It was a very deep series of tunnels
Naples, December 2012
These three are quite sassy in the tunnels of Naples
December 2012

Gratefully it was only about fifty stairs to get up our of the passageways and we were let off in a great shopping area of Naples.  The whole tour cost our family of eight, 40E but that did not include an English speaking guide.  The English guide was off and so we were given a paper with the details of the tour and relied on the translation of a kind Italian woman who was also on our tour.  More info on this tour can be found at www.lanapolisotteranea.it with Laes Naples Underground.  The only way to go on this tour is with a guide so a self guided tour is not possible.  

Just outside out pizzeria called Trianon where we had a delicious lunch!
Naples, December 2012
Leah was in heaven having pizza for lunch everyday!
Naples, December 2012
Ordering one pizza per person was not uncommon but we were only able to eat five at each sitting
Naples, December 2012

By the time our tour was finished and a little shopping complete we decided it was time to have lunch.  There are many places around Naples to enjoy a great meal but we wanted to find the best pizza available since this is the birthplace of pizza!  I relied on our Rick Steve’s Italy book, ricksteves.com once again and chose one of the two pizza places he suggested.  The great thing about these restaurants is that they are across the street from each other so you can make your decision of where to go once you arrive at your location.  One was called Antica Pizzeria da Michele and the other was Pizzeria Trianon both located on Via Pietro Colletta.  We chose Pizzeria Trianon.

Bella was eating four and five pieces each time we sat down.  It was incredibly good pizza
Naples, December 2012

After two taxis to the restaurant we arrived about 12:00pm.  The first two floors were already packed and we were taken to the third floor.  We were the second group to be seated on this floor but within ten minutes the entire floor was full!  We started to stress because we hadn’t ordered our pizzas, though we had given the waitresses a signal.  Finally they came and we ordered five pizzas.  It was a little funny that we stressed at all because all five pizzas and it seemed like everyone else’s pizza on the third floor were all delivered to the tables at the same time. It was a fun sight to see.  

Posing on the streets of Naples
December 2012
Posing as a group on the streets of Naples
December 2012

The kids received a little unexpected attention that day because I also made them wear our family vacation shirt.  All six were adorned in Team shirts and the friendly Italians in the restaurant kept shouting out their names.  Those were the only English words we heard in that establishment and it made the kids kinda feel like rockstars.  So though some of you may pity Colton and Bailey they really didn’t mind it so much.  Person after person kept coming over and counting all six in Italian and thought it was fun to rattle off something to Trent and I which I’m pretty sure went something like “Don’t you have a television? Ha Ha Ha Ha.”  They were hilarious.

Missing this pizza now!!
Trianon Pizzeria, December 2012

The best part was when we left Trianon and realized we had gotten there at the perfect time because now there was a huge crowd of locals outside waiting for tables.  Across the street at Antica Pizzeria da Michele the line was just as long with waiting customers.  We felt lucky we had gotten this advice from Rick Steve’s and enjoyed a local favorite with great pizza at a very affordable price.

On the street with these four cuties
Naples, December 2012

We began our walk down Via Umberto back to the ship and did a little shopping on the street.  The kids wanted to get their collectors items.  Colton was collecting shot glasses for his teachers shot glass collection, Bailey was getting keychains, Clay was looking for statues to represent the area, Lexi and Leah looked for snow globes and Bella’s collection consisted of candy or toys.  She was always disappointed that she ended up eating half of her collection before getting back to the states.

Bella couldn’t pass up this yummy candy on the street in Naples
December 2012

Just being in this city was electrifying.  It had a great atmosphere.  The small pedestrian streets that always ended up having an unexpected scooter or motorcycle going through.  We really enjoyed the city of Naples.  We let the kids go back to the ship after so many days of site seeing and Trent and I ventured out one more time to do a little grown up window shopping. 

All six on the street in Naples
December 2012

We really enjoyed the shopping district by Piazzo da Martiri.  It was a little more upscale and the shoppers were fun to people watch.  They really looked very sophisticated and dressed up for shopping.  We stopped into the Louis Vuitton store just to take a peek around and when we were on our way out the doorman instructed me to take off my wedding ring and earrings because local thieves stalk the doors and watch who comes out of the store.  That was the first time on this trip that I felt a little unsafe.  Most of the time we felt fine but we did take precautions by separating our money and wearing it close to our bodies.  I even wore a fake wedding ring so I really wasn’t worried if it did get stolen but just the idea of being held up got me nervous.  It seemed like after the doorman had told us that it looked like every person on the street was scoping us out.  We were quickly back in a taxi and back to the boat and I was glad it was just before the sun went down.  

Had such a great day with these six on the street in Naples
December 2012

One thing I wish we had had time for was the Archaeological Museum.  Rick Steve’s says its a little dusty and dirty but does have a great collection especially of items from Pompeii.  It only costs 6.50E each so it isn’t too expensive but the kids were all museumed out by this point so we decided to skip it.  Other than the ancient churches, and architecture, Naples didn’t really have too much else to see.  Since my kids weren’t interested in either of those things it ended up being a quick six hours in the city.  If any of you find some cool things to do in Naples please let me know.  I’m positive I’ll be back there someday and I’d love to add more things to do onto my list!

Safe and Happy Travels!!

2 Comments

  • Erica Tanner says:

    The Amalfi Coast and Capri is beautiful. And don’t forget…Did you guys go to the beach (pronounced inappropriately)? What a wonderful tour guide…not.